Monday, March 16, 2015

Imminent Demise of Auto-Tune Singer: Are You Prepared for the Revolution?

PUBLISHED IN BUSINESS TIMES NEWSPAPER 13th MARCH 2015 == Auto-Tune is an audio processor, created by Antares Audio Technologies which uses a proprietary device to measure and alter pitch in vocal and instrumental music recording and performances. It was originally intended to disguise or correct off-key inaccuracies, allowing vocal tracks to be perfectly tuned despite originally being slightly off-key. Well, it didn’t stop there. In recent years, the auto tune has become the lifeblood of the bad singer and has helped create the superstars we know today that couldn’t sing their way out of a paper bag no-matter what—singers who owe their entire ‘singing’ careers to the auto tune, and paradoxically, the saga continues even on live performances where an on-set studio would auto-tune their vocals as they performed. The latter being a costly affair, and that’s why the next best thing and more commonplace would be to not sing at all. Lip synching as it were, and singing on top of prerecorded vocals being pretty much the in thing—AND what beggars belief—ACCEPTED by the public. But things are about to change. Are you ready for the revolution?

Let’s stay in Africa for a moment to discuss this topic. When was the last time you heard a record that didn’t have vocals auto-tuned from start to finish? And I don’t mean the occasional vocoder vocals sprinkled in good taste, but the full whack treatment of it throughout the entire track! Has that got you thinking? What actually hacks ME off is when live performances at the MTV Awards in South Africa are done in this fashion. Well, word has it, music lovers on the continent are beginning to wake up to this proverbial con and you’ll find more and more, singers who originally depended entirely on gimmickry are now having to perform live—to their embarrassment, obviously, because of their inability to hold a simple note. Coke Studio Africa, with their live band format, have perhaps unwittingly unveiled some masks and rattled some cages on the popular TV show. I don’t know whether to thank them for it… I’ll let you be the judge and juror. But if deception by way of the auto-tune is on its way out, what are YOU, the singer or aspiring singer of tomorrow, going to do about it?

Well, the BAD news is, you’re going to have to learn to sing using special exercises to develop and condition the voice. And the GOOD news is that it is perfectly doable. So if you think this is rocket science, dispel that thought from your mind right now! YOU can do it if you really want. Hey, in the 80s and 90s there was no auto-tune and they sounded splendid—much better than they do today. I have nothing against technological advancement, but in this instance, the musical fraternity—obsessed with pitch perfection and opting for technology (rather than vocal training) to cover up bad vocals—has, fundamentally brought about the imminent demise of  their own creation—the auto tune singer. If you want to harness your full potential as a singer, get some vocal training!

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